COLORADO SPRINGS— A D20 middle school music teacher is one step closer to winning the 2024 Grammy Educator Award.
"It's exciting, it's different being in the spotlight," said the Eagleview Middle School music teacher Wes Sparkes.
Sparkes is competing to become one of the 15 semi-finalists, which will be announced in September. The official award recipient will be presented in January during Grammy Week in LA.
"He's like one of the only people I know that deserves it," said an eighth-grade student Eve Walker.
"He's kind of amazing, so I think he would get it," said an eighth-grade student Gabe Levy.
Sparkes said the recognition is more for the students and school than for himself.
"It's nice to be able to share what we do with a broader community and have people recognize how important arts education is," said Sparkes.
Class is more than just music, said Sparkes. He said it teaches students to build confidence and express emotions.
"People don't always know how to just say it so if you can sing it, then it's easier," said Levy.
A few students told me Sparkes inspires them and the class creates a sense of belonging.
"He's been the only teacher that like makes me feel like I'm like part of a community and supported," said Walker.
Students stretch, practice their vocals and sing various songs. One starts with the lyrics, "have you ever felt like nobody listens."
Sparkes said he wants to create a safe space for his students, especially at this age.
"Making sure that they feel welcome and that their voice is heard both musically and individually," said Sparkes.
Sparkes is one of 212 teachers to make it to the quarter-finals. He was selected from more than 2,000 national nominations.
"[It's important to me] that they believe in themselves, knowing that they'll be able to take that forward with them beyond their time with me," said Sparkes.
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